As a Latino professional, you may often have been asked about your heritage or cultural background, and questions or comments about your appearance being “exotic” or your speech having an “accent” are off-putting. However, there are opportunities for you to showcase your multicultural competencies and show that language is your superpower.
There are over 559 million Spanish speakers globally, 460 million of whom are native speakers. In the U.S., Spanish is spoken in approximately 13% of households and it is becoming more mainstream because the Hispanic population is growing. So, you are not alone! ¡No estás solo! With the immersion of Spanish into all aspects of American daily living and projections stating that 1 in 3 people in the U.S. will speak Spanish by 2050, this is your opportunity to utilize the benefits of being bilingual. Here are a few areas where Spanish language proficiency certifications can be beneficial to let people know that – “Yo hablo inglés y español”:
Personal and professional development
Research from the University of Washington has shown that toddlers who speak two or more languages have more frontal lobe activity than those who speak one language. What does that mean for you? Dual language speakers have enhanced memory, focus, and multitasking skills. The transition between one language to another helps to enhance your flexibility when dealing with different situations, making them less challenging—particularly as it relates to diverse cultural contexts. The expanded mental capacity helps to enhance your opportunities for personal growth and professional development.
Competitive advantage and expanded opportunities
A recent study conducted for ACTFL (formerly known as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) found that “nine out of 10 U.S. employers report a reliance on U.S.-based employees with language skills other than English, with one-third (32 percent) reporting a high dependency.” This means that not only is your bilingual superpower needed by employers, but it is also a valuable asset which will allow you to seize opportunities to further your career. ¡Súper!
You can obtain official certification of Spanish language proficiency by taking an ACTFL test administered by Language Testing International (LTI). Obtaining language proficiency certification will allow you to officially confirm your language competency to potential and current employers. This gives you a distinct professional advantage in the U.S. and the global marketplace and broadens your career options. A certification also comes with an official digital badge through Credly, which you can proudly display in your professional profile online and on your résumé.
Did you know you can earn college credit for being bilingual? You can earn semesters’ worth of college credit by obtaining an official certification of proficiency. ACTFL assessments measure your language ability and proficiency regardless of whether you learned the language in school or at home. Many higher education institutions will award college credits based on the official certification. You can get closer to your degree just by being bilingual!
Business and leisure travel experiences
Having the ability to speak English and Spanish means that you do not have to cope with the language barriers that monolingual travelers experience when they are in culturally diverse situations or while visiting any of the Spanish-speaking countries in the world, of which there are over 20. Your bilingual capabilities afford you the ability to effectively communicate with others, easily navigate diverse destinations, and authentically engage in the experience. The cultural and language exposure that travel offers creates opportunities to expand your horizons and enrich your life, both personally and professionally.
Quality of mental health and a life’s journey
The benefits of being bilingual as a child and as we age have been researched and debated at length. In a 2018 article from the Washington Post, Psycholinguist Mark Antoniou of Western Sydney University in Australia proposes that being bilingual benefits the brain, especially as we age, and encourages the use of multiple languages on a regular basis to possibly delay the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. He suggests that, as the brain ages, it begins to deteriorate and that being bilingual can help to establish alternate brain networks and connections known as cognitive compensation.
So, whether you use your bilingual superpowers as a means for personal growth, career advancement, enhanced travel experiences (for business or pleasure), or keeping your mind active, being bilingual supports a life-long journey with many benefits. Australian multi-lingual philosopher Ludwig Witterstein said it best, “the limits of my language means the limits of my world.” In other words, your world is expanded by virtue of your bilingual superpowers. It is your time to go out into the world and reach new heights!
Get certified and showcase your bilingual superpowers with ACTFL assessments delivered by LTI. Find more information and sign up to take a test at www.languagetesting.com.